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Kangaroos

( Originally Published 1936 )

The largest and most important group of marsupials are the Kangaroos, confined to Australia and the adjacent islands, remarkable for the curious structure of the limbs and tail. The hind legs are enormously long and powerful, and there are but three toes on the hind feet, long, and armed with claws. The fore-legs are short and weak, the tail very thick and powerful, and the animal sits upon its haunches much like a rodent, with the front legs dangling. The mode of progression is by a series of enormous leaps and bounds, the tail rising and falling and acting as a balance; but when feeding, the Kangaroo walks clumsily on all-fours. With the strong hind legs it is able to deliver very severe kicks, when attacked. The head is very rodent-like, the long ears very closely resembling those of a rabbit. The young are carried in a pouch. These animals are entirely herbivorous, and as they devour grass required for the sheep, the Australian colonists do their best to exterminate them.

Great Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

This is the largest known species of Kangaroo; it was the first seen by Europeans, and was formerly very abundant in Australia, but is now much reduced in numbers. A large specimen measures upwards of seven feet in length, including the tail, and when resting on its hind legs stands nearly as high as a man. The fur is brown, the tail is tipped with white, and the ears are pale brown outside and white within. See Plate 40, Fig. 166.

Closely approximating the Grey Kangaroo in size, and much more beautiful in colour, is the Red Kangaroo. The males of this species are covered with a very soft woolly fur of a delicate reddish hue, lighter on the under parts, and the female is a beautiful purplish-grey.



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